St. Francis Church, Kochi: A Glimpse into Its Storied Past

St. Francis Church, located in Fort Kochi, Kerala, is one of the oldest European-built churches in India. Its history is closely intertwined with the colonial era and the spice trade along the Malabar Coast. Here’s a glimpse into the rich history of St. Francis Church:

Early 16th Century:

  1. St. Francis Church was originally constructed in the early 16th century, around 1503.
  2. It was built by the Portuguese Franciscan friars under the patronage of Don Pedro Álvares Cabral, the Portuguese navigator who is believed to have discovered Brazil.

Role in the Colonial Era:

  1. St. Francis Church witnessed the turbulent times of European colonialism on the Malabar Coast.
  2. It served as a place of worship and refuge for Portuguese, Dutch, and British settlers and soldiers at various points in its history.
  3. The church played a crucial role in the religious and cultural exchanges between European colonists and the indigenous population.

Dutch Occupation (17th Century):

  1. During the Dutch occupation of Cochin in the mid-17th century, St. Francis Church was converted into a Dutch Reformed church.
  2. The Dutch significantly modified the church’s structure, including adding a pulpit.

British Era (18th Century):

  1. In the late 18th century, with the British control of Cochin, the church reverted to Anglican use.
  2. It was used by the British as a place of worship for their troops stationed in Fort Kochi.

Vasco da Gama’s Final Resting Place:

  1. St. Francis Church holds historical significance as the original burial place of the famous Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama.
  2. Vasco da Gama, who initially died in Cochin in 1524, was buried at the church. Later, his remains were moved to Lisbon, Portugal.

Architecture and Renovation:

  1. The church’s architecture is a simple and austere reflection of its Franciscan origins.
  2. Over the centuries, St. Francis Church underwent several renovations and modifications, yet it retains its historical charm.
  3. The original wooden structure was replaced with a stone building, which remains today.

Present Day:

  1. St. Francis Church is no longer an active place of worship but has become a historical monument and a popular tourist attraction.
  2. It stands as a symbol of the enduring legacy of colonial history in Fort Kochi and the cultural exchanges that took place in this coastal region.

St. Francis Church’s history is a testament to the complex and multifaceted history of colonial India. It continues to be a poignant reminder of the diverse influences that have shaped the cultural tapestry of Kerala and the Malabar Coast.


The blogs and articles published on our website are intended to provide general information and insights about various travel destinations, activities, and experiences. While we strive to offer accurate and up-to-date information, it’s important to note that the details presented in these blogs may not encompass every aspect of your travel requirements or preferences. For our specific tour packages, customized itineraries and detailed travel arrangements, please check our upcoming tour packages and contact us at Sun Tours to obtain comprehensive and personalized assistance.

We are committed to making your travel experience exceptional and memorable. Thank you for considering us as your travel partner. We look forward to helping you create unforgettable travel memories.

Scroll to Top